Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with B.C. Premier John Horgan at a pre-election announcement in Vancouver, Aug. 29, 2019. (B.C. government)

B.C.’s 13-cent gasoline gap still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

B.C. gasoline prices are still higher than other parts of the country, Premier John Horgan says, and he intends to ask Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help find out why.

Horgan was asked about gasoline prices Tuesday, after the B.C. Utilities Commission released a follow-up report on its investigation into the province’s motor fuel market. That report, by independent experts who regulate electrical and natural gas utilities and ICBC, continues to describe an “unexplained difference of 10 to 13 cents per litre” for gasoline.

The commission said the extension to allow more submissions from fuel companies after last summer’s hearings didn’t resolve the reason for pump prices running higher than neighbouring Alberta and Washington state, and there still hadn’t been time to drill down into the dynamics of wholesale sources.

Gasoline prices in B.C.’s Lower Mainland dropped sharply last week, and by Tuesday pump prices in Surrey were hovering around $1.40 per litre according to monitoring service GasBuddy.com.

RELATED: Metro Vancouver gasoline prices drop by up to 15 cents

RELATED: Inquiry finds B.C. prices higher, but reasons are unclear

Horgan said the utilities commission was the appropriate first step in seeking answers. It was prevented from examining taxes, environmental regulations or other B.C. government actions that may contribute to higher prices. If the B.C. commission has done all it can, Horgan said Ottawa’s watchdog, Competition Bureau Canada, has the legal tools to protect consumers.

“[The BCUC] did that in the summer, and it highlighted about a 13 cent-a-litre increase, or a gouge, on local drivers, which translates into hundreds of millions of dollars and more, out of the pockets of the travelling public of the Lower Mainland and British Columbia versus other locations,” Horgan said at an event in Richmond Tuesday.

“I’m going to reinforce this [gasoline price gap] with the prime minister when I meet with him,” Horgan said. “The federal government has an ability to look at competition in markets. Clearly there’s something wrong with the gas market in British Columbia, and we want to get to the bottom of that.”

Trudeau is meeting premiers as he prepares to announce the cabinet for his minority government. He met Tuesday with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, one of four premiers who are challenging the Liberal government’s national carbon tax as an intrusion into provincial jurisdiction over natural resource production.

Horgan said his government will be presenting its own proposed solution in the B.C. legislature, which resumes sitting next week until the end of November. And he hinted that his meeting with Trudeau will continue to press the B.C. NDP’s opposition to expanding the Trans Mountain oil pipeline as it resumes construction.

“It’s not just about supply, although we need more gasoline,” Horgan said. “We need less diluted bitumen. That won’t move your automobile, but gasoline will, and we only have the one refinery in Burnaby.”

B.C. also has a second refinery in Prince George that processes natural gas liquids into motor fuels.

The B.C. Liberal opposition resumed its political battle over gasoline prices, which has included “Blame John Horgan” billboards placed for viewing by Metro Vancouver commuters.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson issued a statement saying the NDP government “rigged” the BCUC review to avoid looking at its own policies, such as opposing the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline that brings refined fuel as well as crude oil from Alberta to B.C.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Coastal GasLink breaks ground on meter station in Kitimat

Meter station marks final point on pipeline that stretches from Northeast B.C.

Kitimat Council increasing mayor, councillor compensation after survey says they are “much lower than the B.C. average”

The pay raise was initially scheduled for April, but was put on hold for COVID-19 priorities.

In Our Valley: Joanne Havery

Havery was the food services manager at the Hirsch Creek Golf & Winter Club for 16 years.

Brucejack mine fatality identified

Patrick Critch was from Newfoundland

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Lawsuit launched after Florida child handcuffed, booked and briefly jailed

Suit alleges “deliberate indifference” to what should have been handled as a behavioural issue

Russia approves vaccine, Putin hopes to begin mass production

Critic calls decision to proceed without thorough testing ‘dangerous and grossly immoral’

Most Read